Media and society played a role in building up the atmosphere that contributed to last week’s riot, according to Vancouver School Board chair Patti Bacchus.
Bacchus has been tweeting about the violent fallout from the Stanley Cup Final for several days. She has been highly critical of demonizing the vandals and for suggestions they be jailed.
Bacchus’ tweets included:
—Oh critical thought & analysis—why have you forsaken us? Quality of post-riot discourse by media and politicians most embarrassing of all
—Important to reflect on why so many young men feel so apparently alienated and angry in our society
—Talking tough on law and order and locking up perps not the authentic solution to deeper societal problems.
The Vision Vancouver trustee argues restorative justice is the best way to deal with rioters, particularly first-time offenders.
“From the perspective as a parent and trustee, [the reaction has been] shocking to me because the justice system doesn’t jail young people who do one stupid thing as a first-time offence, that have never been in trouble before, particularly under extremely unusual circumstances that we don’t fully understand,” she told the Courier. “We have a justice system that acknowledges that minors don’t have the full brain development even to be fully responsible for their actions. The fact that we didn’t see 50-year-old women rioting tells me there’s something physiological and biological going on that makes these young men and teenage boys particularly vulnerable to a situation of mob hysteria.”
Bacchus said a teen’s impulse control isn’t fully developed and that, and other factors, should be explored in the wake of the riot. She added the hype was cranked up in the days before the final with sentiments such as “We’re all Canucks.”
“The painted faces and hockey itself—it’s aggressive, they celebrate the brawling on ice, it’s winning, it’s dominance. If kids are all watching a UFC game and cheering someone for bloodying up someone else’s face, how big a leap is that from cheering on someone smashing a window? It’s very mixed messages we’re sending to young people who are still in a stage of developing their impulse control and moral development.”
Windermere secondary uses restorative justice to deal with disputes, violence, bullying and vandalism. It’s a voluntary process where victims and perpetrators meet to discuss the crime and its effects, and to determine a consequence.
“Part of the purpose of restorative justice is to give the young person a chance to take responsibility and set it right and go away with feeling they’re more of a man or woman for the process—it’s not shaming, it’s not humiliating,” Bacchus said. “It’s acknowledging people make mistakes and part of doing the right thing is learning from your mistakes.”
Associate superintendent Jordan Tinney said the district hasn’t received confirmation of Vancouver students being involved.
“[But] we offered [the police] the services of any of our secondary school administrators to view any of the photos or video images of anyone involved in the riot to provide our support,” Tinney said, noting secondary schools have police liaison officers, so there may be conversations at the school level.
Vancouver police aren’t revealing if Vancouver students have been implicated due to privacy laws.